Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Business in a Nutshell, Thoughts on Patents

Thomas Doppelberger and Andreas Aepfelbacher from Fraunhofer Venture Group (http://www.venturecommunity.de/) came to our lab course to teach us how to get from a technical idea to a successful business. They talked us through the essentials of a business plan, discussed common mistakes and gave us an insight how companies are evaluated and furthermore encouraged our “entrepreneurial thinking”.

After such a day and the interesting discussions with them and the students one wonders why we are not trying more often to look into the option of starting a company. Obviously not every start-up is the next youtube or second life – but without trying ideas out, there is not way in telling if the work or not.

Over lunch we talked very briefly about issues on patents and licensing. Even though the value of patents for companies is fairly comprehensible many questions remain open in publicly funded research institutions, – especially with regard to computer science. Thinking a little more about the figures they presented in the morning I wonder how the balance (over all publicly funded research in universities and non-profit institutions) between investments in securing rights (basically making patents and holding them) and income (e.g. licensing) is. Are there any figures available? Within the whole Fraunhofer Gesellschaft it is impressive to see the contribution of one development such as MP3 to such an equation.